Monthly Archives: July 2012

A Defense of My Faith

Brace yourselves, dear readers…

A couple of days ago I got lambasted over a supportive and hopefully comforting reply that I made on another blog (The Extinction Protocol, which is a great blog that covers everything from earthquakes to financial messes to unrest and wars, and I highly recommend it) to a poor guy who has been very upset over a recurring prophetic dream that he’s been having. The person who singed my goose starting out by saying that I should “read my Bible” and then hit me with a couple of long quotations from Scripture for good measure. Whew! Enough said about that…

So naturally, being prone to self-doubts and second-guessing myself, I began doing some soul searching and even consulted a trusted friend as to whether or not I was being too obscure about my beliefs. We both came up with the same answer – no.

I have made it quite clear from the beginning what my core beliefs are, but I am going to take the plunge and commit it to writing for any and all to see (and I hope that my critic takes my advice and actually reads some of what I write here): I count myself as a Christian because I believe that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah, sent by our Creator to pay the ultimate price for the failings of every person who has ever lived, and that by believing in Him I will be able to live far beyond the end of this violent and virtually futile age. There, I’ve said it. Does that mean that I go around beating people over the head with my Bible? No. Does that mean that I am unable to have a normal conversation without turning it into a sermon? No. Does that mean that I am any less of a Christian? No. All it means is that I am glad that I have something to look forward too once this comedy of errors that I’ve called a life is over.

Now pay attention, folks, because I am about to do something that I usually only do when discussing certain prophecies: I am going to actually – briefly – quote some Scripture. In 1st Corinthians 12:4-11, the apostle Paul, who in my book was not only one of the greatest thinkers of his time but also one of the humblest, outlined the kind of spiritual gifts that Christians can receive from God. “There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines.” End quote. Now I am forced to admit that over the last 28 years since I came to the faith I have sought just about every one of these gifts, which was the wrong approach because they are given, not handed out in response to spiritual requisitions. I know what my gifts are, which is between me and God, and there is always the chance that some of you may figure them out if you keep reading my posts long enough.

Do I hold it against other believers because their gifts seem “second rate” somehow? No, because I believe that all of these gifts are valuable in their own right. Besides, I don’t want to judge lest I be judged! Do I think that some of these gifts are cooler than others? Not really; miraculous powers would be amazing but I believe that is probably the rarest of these gifts since it would take an extremely humble person to wield miraculous powers without growing proud.

The bottom line is, I may not have the gift of preaching the gospel at the drop of a hat, and after studying the Bible for almost three decades I know what it teaches but if you want me to pull up chapter and verse it’ll take me a few minutes to find a lot of things. But what I do have is a very particular view of the world around us and how it all fits together and meshes with what the Bible teaches. Some of my views may seem a bit far out, but over time as I present them just keep an open mind and keep reading and you’ll find that I can build a good case for each one. Because when I set out on this spiritual journey I asked God to make sure that I see the truth in everything, and although there have been times when it hurt and nearly drove me crazy, He’s been pretty diligent about it and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

So, now that I’ve gotten my little rant out of my system, I have something very specific that I can refer future critics to read to see just what I believe, because part of that belief is to avoid judging by appearances but instead make a right judgement. Those who know me know who and what I am, how I am, and those who don’t or are just starting to know me will figure it out pretty quickly if they just keep reading.

And if we still don’t agree, then like my dear departed mentor Walter Martin (and my friend) always said, we can just agree to disagree.

‘Nuff said!

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Filed under Faith in the 21st Century

The Battle of the Briars

I have been fighting a losing battle.

No, I haven’t been vainly trying to solve the problems in the Middle East (although I do have opinions about them), nor trying to reconstruct society in my own image. The battle that I have been losing is against blackberry briars.

I don’t really have anything against blackberries, in fact, I love them – in pies, cobblers, jellies and ice cream. For me the world would be a darker and sadder place without blackberries. Besides, when modern society goes down the tubes blackberries will undoubtably end up becoming a major supplement to my diet.

“So why are you fighting blackberry briars then, Dave?” See, I heard you ask that…

Here in western Oregon blackberries are common, in fact, they are our most common berry bush. You can find patches growing on hillsides and along rivers. Especially rivers, for blackberries like a certain amount of moisture in order to flourish. Which means that here on the Oregon Coast there are blackberry patches everywhere, because even in summer the moisture levels are perfect for blackberries to grow in abundance. And they do. Abundantly. Which is why I have been fighting them all summer.

If it was left entirely up to nature, the blackberry bushes here on our place would swallow the house up in no time. I have watched berry vines that I cut back to the ground a month ago grow anywhere from six to ten feet – in a month. I’m not exagerrating one bit! We’ve had a damp summer with periods of rain ever since June, and the conditions have been right for the berry vines to grow exponentially. For those of you who may have read Stephen R. Donaldson’s The Wounded Land, it’s been a little like living under the green sun.

So I’ve been busily out there with clippers and loppers and weed-eater, hacking away along the edges, trying to keep the house clear enough to at least walk all the way around it without a machete. My inner diplomat is also in the process of negotiating some sort of compromise with the berries, for there are several areas on the property where I plan on letting them grow their little hearts out. Just don’t swallow the house and the yard.

That’s okay, though, because when winter sets in and they stop growing so fast, I’ll finally gain the upper hand. Until next summer, anyway…

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The Joys of Insomnia

Ah, the joys of insomnia!

I am a closet insomniac, or maybe it’s an insomniac-Lite. No, more accurately what affects me would be better called a part-time insomnia, because that’s really how it works. I’ve been this way for so long that I can’t remember exactly when it started. By part-time I mean that it comes and goes, kind of like rainy days here on the coast; some days I sleep so soundly that it would take a hand grenade to wake me up (I think so, because to the best of my knowledge no one has ever had to toss a grenade my way to wake me!). Other days I can barely sleep at all. It tends to be cyclic in nature, as in it comes and goes. (Yawn!) Here’s hoping that this phase of the cycle ends soon since I’ve managed to sleep about ten hours in three days.

It’s not a chemically induced insomnia, at least, not in the years that it’s been since I did that kind of thing. It’s not from drinking too much caffeine as I haven’t had any coffee in nine hours or more, no tea and no soda pop. It’s not caused by hammering down the Red Bulls either, because I stay away from that stuff. It’s not from my medications since I only take one of those when I’ve been awake for about three or four hours and that was last night at about two AM. It’s all natural, 100% organic insomnia.

Part of this current cycle is probably due to my sleep cycle being thrown off by my fiance’s new schedule, which is graveyard shift, and I’ve been used to a pretty regular sleep schedule of midnight to 7:30 AM for the past ten years, and most of the numerous jobs that I held over the years have been day jobs (and yes, I did give up my day job, just so I can pester people on the Internet). No, logically I should able to sleep at night while she works and be up all day while she sleeps, but that hasn’t worked out very well. You see, I seem to have issues with sleeping in an empty house – that’s when things crawl around looking for prey, things like the bogeyman and the banshee (although technically I’d have to die for her to come and the ticker just keeps on ticking). It’s the time when the aliens come and snatch people out of their beds so they can poke at their bodies with sharp instruments. It’s the time when I should be bloody well sleeping but I’m not. And I’m not scared of the dark as long as I don’t stub my toe on the clothes hamper or bark my shin on the bedframe. So I try to sleep during the day and work around the house and blog at night.

(Yawn! That’s two…)

What usually happens when I try to sleep are as follows: I crawl into bed and get comfortable, then I shift positions, then in a few minutes I shift again, this time accompanied by a heavy sigh of frustration. Soon eyes that were nearly glued shut are wide open and I’m just laying there listening to my thoughts whirl around inside of my head. It’s as if the sheep I should be counting are chasing each other’s tail’s, faster and faster as if they were spinning down into a black hole, which is exactly where I would like to send them. Chase, chase, chase! Run, run,run! Fly, fly, fly! After a couple or three hours of this, during which time I have sorted out the the answer to the Middle Eastern question, reorganized things throughout the house, planned blogs and plotted novels, I drift off into a light sleep for maybe 2-4 hrs before I’m wide awake again. And this is day after day until my body reaches the point of complete exhaustion and I could sleep standing up (which I’ve done before!) and I finally crash and get a day or two of decent 8-10 hour sleep before the cycle starts again. Aarrgh!

Oh well, when I was young and in the Navy I was able to go for weeks on end with about 3-4 hours sleep at night and still work my tail off on the ship and party it off when I was out in town, but hey, I was in my early twenties then. That stuff isn’t so easy once you’ve passed the standard speed limit in years! And I don’t even party anymore!

I don’t have an answer to the problem, just gripes, so if any of you have any great ideas other than pumping myself full of Thorazine I’d love to hear them. And if this entry tended to wander up to the gates of insanity at any point, I apologize, but hey, I’m working under sleep-deprived conditions so…

(Yawn!) That’s three and I’m going to run with it. Wish me luck! Maybe I can still salvage a good four hour nap before the alarm goes off to get Mama off to work. I’m hoping…

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Filed under Dave's Little Quirks

An Epiphany About Today’s Insanity

I have discovered that epiphanies can happen anywhere, any time and for – sometimes – the strangest reasons derived from the strangest input. My latest came about from the following three disparate and primary sources: thinking about writing something about how we all need to slow down, watching an episode of Warehouse 13, and reading a post on a blog about the increasing ethnic violence around the world. A strange mix that I’ll walk you through presently.

Here’s the epiphany: the increasing insanity around the world has been brought about by too much stress for far too long.

The hopefully brief rundown on how I came to this conclusion goes something like this. I live in the country where I can take plenty of time to just sit and look at nature and be thankful that I live where I do, and as I’ve been taking it all in I’ve been thinking that if more people could live in a place like mine there would be a lot less stressed out people in the world. Then yesterday my fiance and I were getting caught up on some back episodes of the TV show Warehouse 13 and at the end of one episode two characters in 1890s London were walking along and talking when one of them made the statement that everything was moving too fast; he wished “we could all just slow down and take a deep breath”. And then I read a piece off of the blog The Extinction Protocol – one of my favorites – which was written about the escalating violence around the world and about how most of it was ethnic in nature. Now the way that my brain processes information is that I take things in, put them into a little pot on the back burner of my mental stove, and eventually something bubbles to the surface.

And that’s when I had this latest epiphany.

There’s not much doubt that modern society is one devilishly stressful place to live. I grew up hearing about the “Rat Race”, but the folks who coined that term hadn’t seen anything yet. Over the last fifty years in particular things have gotten more hectic and the demands made upon the average human have gotten more insistent. Work harder and faster. Do more. You’re losing the race if you are not squeezing every last proton of productivity out of your day. We’ve all heard this stuff until it has become so firmly embedded in our subconsciouses that we generally don’t know what to do with ourselves if we are not busily doing something. We are reminded of it all of the time, especially at work and during commercials on TV. During the late 80s and all through the 90s I worked in phone centers doing customer service, and I remember in the early 90s the latest craze coming out of the Human Resources department was “Time Management”: they gave you these nifty little day planners and taught you how to squeeze as much productivity out of your work day as possible. As it turns out, the corporate world had so much success with this that they at some point realized that if they could use their advertising to train people to continue that into their personal lives they could sell more goods and services, and soon the HR seminars were not only preaching this sermon at work but the ads on TV were exhorting us to do more, run harder, reflect less.

The primary problem with this is that human beings are not wired that way. The human brain needs a certain amount of downtime in order to catch up and regroup, and if we don’t do that then the mental stress begins to build in our minds, and once it begins to build then it feeds off of itself and we start getting stressed over the fact that we are stressed, and then we start trying to find ways to accomplish everything in as little time as possible so that we don’t have to be as stressed, but then we start getting stressed about that… You get the picture. Remember the old saying that there are only so many hours in the day? When was the last time that you heard someone say that without expressing at least a tinge of regret?

So the stress keeps building until we are submersed in it to the point where it feels like it’s our natural environment – what next? That depends on the person. Some people seem to handle huge amounts of stress just fine and seem to thrive on it (although I suspect that a lot of these types are the ones having massive heart attacks at young ages). Others get cranky, irritable, angry and difficult to get along with, but at least they are appearing to cope. And then there are those who simply crack, who snap one day and have mental breakdowns that lead to suicide attempts, irrational and self-destructive behavior like running off to Vegas and blowing the family’s savings on blackjack, coke and hookers, and sometimes mass shootings. Different people respond to prolonged stress in different ways depending on their psychological make-up (I was going to add training, but one of training’s functions is to weed out those who lack the psychological balance or whatever that will enable them to handle prolonged stress). This is why men and women in combat have different outcomes: some do just fine and come home with Silver Stars, some become jerks and end up transferred to the rear areas, and some come home with PTSD. The bottom line to this is that it’s not the fault of the person as to how they respond to prolonged stress, it is because of the psychological wiring they were born with. People who don’t do well under tons of pressure shouldn’t go deep sea diving and that’s all that there is to it.

Okay, something or someone is telling me that it’s time for a brief bit of personal revelation just to support my argument thus far. I was never wired to handle a great deal of prolonged stress and that’s all there is to it. It really started when I joined the Navy in 1975 (I know, I’m dating myself but I’m sure that you all can tell by my photo that I’m no spring chicken!) which is when I first started trying to fit this square peg into a round hole, but that wasn’t too bad because on board ship there is always someplace where you can hole up and decompress for a bit. Then college, when I was struggling to balance studies with an overactive social life. Then I got into restaurant cooking, which is pretty stressful. After 8 years of that I went into customer service, where I spent thirteen years in the constant stress of call after call. Then came the anxiety attacks and a couple of “breaks”. Then into motel security in a rough part of town; that ended in a mild stroke. Then I went to work for a state park, which wasn’t supposed to be stressful, but we were understaffed in the maintenance department, I lived there which made me too available even during my time off, and dealing with a demanding public is always stressful. BAM! A big break that I’m still recovering from. My point to all this semi-relevant digression is that I wasn’t wired to handle lots of stress. I should have been a librarian or a lighthouse keeper or an astronomer instead.

Now, back to my main point. I have had for years a theory that nations had psyches just like people: I call it Dave’s Theory of National Psyches. (I have lots of theories about lots of things, in case you hadn’t noticed.) In this theory I propose that nations – or ethnic groups if you prefer – each have their own mindset, their own strengths and weaknesses as a people. Some of it probably sounds like ethnic profiling, which I am against; this is all just based on observation. For instance, Germans (I’m part) are known as rule followers, the Italians are known as emotional artists and lovers, and the Japanese are known as stoic tech-savvy innovators. And so forth. Are these statements true of everyone in these groups? No, but then even a creative type like me has some technical tendencies. But overall, I think that my idea holds water. It’s just a matter of identifying the particular strengths and weaknesses of the group – or person – in question. But just like each person and nation has a particular personality, I believe that they all have their own memory and subconscious. (This sounds like the idea of the Group Consciousness/Collective Subconscious, which is usually more of a New Age thing and therefore something that my jury is still out on.) And what we have been seeing a lot of with the sect on sect violence globally – I feel – has a lot to do with group memory. Hence the Muslims Semites hate the Jewish Semites, the various groups in Africa that are constantly fighting all hate each other, and the Irish still have a profound dislike of the English for subjugating their culture. To paraphrase a linie from a Marillion song, somewhere in time they were wronged and they still want revenge.

Now to (I hope) tie it all together. You have the better part of a century of societal stress, of constantly trying to keep up with or ahead of someone else, combined with a mix of ethnic personalities and grievances, and the result is the upsurge in violence that we see today. Some groups are still able to keep their acts together like the Aussies and the Canadians, some are getting angry like the Greeks and the Syrians, and some are cracking under the strain like much of Latin America and Asia and even America. The violence at the personal, ethnic and national levels is escalating and it is doing so at an increasing pace. No sooner is one outbreak sort of settled in one area than another breaks out somewhere else or an old conflict is renewed as we saw in Northern Ireland (still Ulster to me) recently.

So how do we break the spiralling cycle of violence? It can be broken in two ways, but I’m afraid that neither with be utilized at more than the personal level. First, people as individuals and groups need to learn to forgive or they will always want to avenge themselves on those who wronged them in the past. When I still harbored hate and a desire to avenge myself I was angry and self-destructive, but since I’ve learned to forgive things are much better. Yes, Abraham may have sent Ishmael away in favor of Isaac, but that was nearly five thousand years ago – let it go. Yes, China may have claimed islands in the South China Sea four and five hundred years ago but she lost them, and now other nations have claims on them that are just as valid – don’t go to war over it. Yes, England may have conquered and brutalized Scotland and Ireland centuries ago, but I don’t hate the English (it helps that most of Ireland is independent and Scotland is working on it). Without forgiveness there is no peace. And second, people need to get off the treadmill and take a moment to think and reflect. When was the last time that you heard the saying “stop and smell the roses” as a real desire and not just another quaint saying on a kitchen magnet? Even the Bible says to do so: “Be still that you may hear the Lord.” If you are too busy running yourself into the ground chasing after the latest fashions and gadgets you will never be able to sort out your own problems, you will never be able to put things in their proper perspectives, and you will definitely never be able to hear that “still, small voice” inside of you that can help you get a grip on things.

There are foxgloves in bloom by my driveway, and every day when I walk out to the mailbox I stop and admire them. When I step outside at night I always look up and admire the stars. It’s little things like that can make the biggest difference.

Now if the rest of the world could just do the same…

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Filed under Ethnic Violence, In the News

Up, Up and Away

One of my fellow bloggers recently reported the near miss of a small tornado that she and her family endured a few days ago, and it got me thinking about tornadoes. Not the friendly kinid that whisk you away to Oz, but the mean, nasty real ones that kill people, destroy property and basically ruin lives. Yeah, that kind. Don’t worry, I’m not going to get into a technical discussion of why there are tornadoes or what makes them tick (even though it is interesting) because any of us who have watched the Weather Channel or even their local news during tornado season have seen plenty of that stuff. No, what I want to do is just talk about my own experiences with tornadoes, which can be summed up by the phrase “wow, that was close!”

I lived in Texas for 16 years and Alabama for 7-1/2 years, so I’ve had plenty of exposure to tornadoes. (What in the world, you might ask, was an Oregon boy doing in the deep South? That’s a long and rather convoluted story that, as Plutarch was fond of saying, would be best told some other time.) My first near miss was in the fall of 1988, my first fall in Texas, when the remnants of a hurricane washed up over San Antonio; a tornado developed close to my apartment, then went over the hill, bounced off of the side of the VA hospital and tore through an apartment complex before dissipating. I remember driving past the apartments the next day and seeing how roofs had been torn off, siding ripped to shreds, and one third floor apartment was gutted (no one was hurt that I remember). The next one was around 1995 or 1996 (I only remember that it was around the time of all the base closures) and a tornado tore across Kelly AFB and part of Lackland AFB; the two were side by side (Kelly is now owned by the city of San Antonio, but Lackland is still where most Air Force enlisted personnel get their basic training). Kelly had a couple of big hangars destroyed and some other minor damage, while the damage to Lackland was to an undeveloped area, although I heard that a lot of recruits needed to go back to the barracks for clean uniforms! Then in the fall of 1997 some big storms were coming in from the north and I was out on my porch watching when I saw a distinct circular rotation in the greenish part of the storm, and heard later that a small tornado touched down briefly just south of my apartment complex. My last near miss in Texas happened in the spring of 2003 while I was working security at a Motel 6 on the west side of San Antonio (the wild, wild west!). A line of bad storms came through at about 4:00 AM, and after I made sure that everyone was inside I went up to the third floor so I could keep watch. (I know, I should have been inside, too, but I hoped I’d see it in time to give the desk clerk some warning and besides, if we got hit I wanted to see it!) I never saw anything, but you know that nasty growling sound that some of those tornadoes in the film Twister made? I heard that, and that’s the spookiest sound that I’ve ever heard.

Then we moved to Huntsville, Alabama in December 0f 2003. The following March we were house-sitting my inlaws’ place when storms came through at night with a lot of wind and lightning. The wind was howling around the house so bad that I was surprised that I didn’t see our roof come off, and all of the pool furniture went flying. It turns out that a small tornado tore through a neighborhood just on the other side of a hill from us and then must have bounced into the air and went over us. That’s a weird thing about tornadoes is how they can bounce off of a small rise and completely miss the next house down the road from the one it just shredded. They also tend to do a lot of weaving back and forth, but that is due to the coriolis force generated by…sorry, I almost got technical on you. In the summer of 2004 I hired on at Lake Guntersville State Park, about thirty miles east of Huntsville and on the Tennessee River, and we moved there into a camp trailer. One year it would be hurricane remnants blowing the park around and the next it would be tornadoes. One memorable night the park was under a tornado warning and we rounded everyone up and got them in our concrete bath houses, then most of the staff headed out in our vehicles and kept watch. The wind blew horribly hard and a few trees came down (no major damage), but the tornado went straight up the river and demolished a neighborhood about six or seven miles upstream.

The park and I parted ways in early January, 2008 (that’s a story I’ll probably never tell) and we moved to a little town called Boaz, about ten miles south of the park. Every spring and fall the tornado alarms would go off, sometimes repeatedly throughout the day and night, and I used to joke that it was like living through the London Blitz without the German bombers. But at this park we had cable and I could tune into the Weather Channel and watch their live Doppler radar, so it took me no time at all to learn to interpret what I was seeing on screen and apply it to where we lived and keep a good watch out for imminent danger. (Meteorology is one of the several -ologies that I’ve taught myself over the years; what can I say, some guys learn all about baseball, some about Nascar, I teach myself a bit of science!) I quickly noticed that the actual centers of rotation where the tornados were passing us were either a mile or two to the south or a mile or two to the north. Interesting… I soon realized that the pattern was so regular and predictable that even though I still kept one eye on the sky and one on the TV, I wasn’t nervous about it, which used to kind of freak my neighbors out until I explained it to them. My last spring in Alabama, which was 2010, a tornado rated at a low F-4 tore through several neighborhoods and a business section in Albertville, just two miles north of us. And in the spring of 2011 the state park that I used to work at took a direct hit from at least an F-3, one that absolutely levelled the campground. I’ve seen pictures of the damage online, and I had I not left the park my camper would have been shredded.

So now I’m away from all of that. Sort of… We get the occasional small tornadoes in Oregon, mostly in the Willamette Valley where there is a lot of flat land where the storms can get low and rotate their little hearts out. Most of the ones that we get here are F-0s and F-1s, but on December 14th of 2010 an F-2 tore a big chunk out of the little town of Aumsville, which is east of the state capital, Salem. I’ve also heard that they had an F-3 once up by Oregon City. We also on rare occasions get small twisters along the coast in the areas where the coastal plain is wide and flat. Why, just this past April a funnel cloud was spotted over Tillamook, about fifty miles up the coast. So we do get them here, just not where I live. You see, for a severe thunderstorm to produce a tornado it needs an expanse of flat ground where it can really get rotating; hills disturb the rotation so that you rarely ever see even a small twister over hilly terrain. That’s also why you see lots of tornadoes in places like Kansas and Oklahoma; in fact, the whole of North America from the Rockies to the Appalachians and from the Gulf of Mexico to well past the border with Canada is one big, flat, tornado-prone region.

I can say that God had my back in being so close to so many of these violent freaks of nature, but then I’ve known people who’ve spent their entire lives in Kansas, Alabama and Oklahoma who’ve been a lot closer a lot more often and came away with no more than a good tornado story. Maybe it’s just a matter of relevance, or maybe statistics, but I’m going to give play it safe and give God the credit, just like I’ll give Him credit for keeping my friend safe, with nothing worse than a couple of trees to cut up and a good tornado story. I know one thing, where I live now I can enjoy a good thunderstorm without getting nervous or insisting on putting the Weather Channel on the TV. I don’t miss tornadoes one bit.

I’ll deal with earthquakes and volcanoes anyday! That’s much better!

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E. Coli found in Portland’s water supply

Today it was announced that traces of the E. Coli virus were found in one of the reservoirs feeding Portland, Oregon’s water system, forcing the city to shut down its water supply to all of Portland west of the Willamette River as well as several suburbs on that side of town. The same thing happened at the same reservoir in 2009, and at that time it was decided that the contamination was caused by seagull droppings – how could they ever determine that? – so it is likely that today’s contamination was also natural in origin. One criticism I have of the city’s handling of the situation is the fact that the reservoir was found to be contaminated on Thursday, so why did it take until Saturday to shut down the system and get the word out to all of the people affected?

What this brings to mind to me is just how vulnerable the supply of drinking water is. If seagulls answering the call of nature can contaminate the drinking water of more than 250,000 people, what would happen should some sicko decide to deliberately contaminate the water with chemical or biological agents? This could be done simply and cheaply as it really doesn’t take a lot of certain bacteria, viruses or chemicals to dangerously contaminate the public water supply. So how can we prevent this from happening? The truth is, we can’t. We could always shift from using open reservoirs to water tanks such as they use in the South and other places, particularly farming country that is prone to droughts, but the expense of such a major project would force most municipalities to forget about it. The only other alternative that I can think of would be posting guards on all reservoirs (which would probably help lower unemployment as a bonus), but again the cost would be prohibitive. The only thing that some cities are doing is installing CCTVs to monitor exposed reservoirs, but that seems a bit like a band-aid solution (even though it did catch an intoxicated man urinating in another Portland reservoir last year) and you still have to pay someone to watch the video feeds or the recorded footage or else the money spent on the cameras is wasted. So there’s really not any viable solution to the problem. All people can do is hope and pray that no one contaminates their water supply and that if they do the public utility responsible for the water acts faster than Portland did.

It sure makes me glad that we have a well!

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“It’s the end of the world as we know it…”

I for one enjoyed the movie “Independence Day”, and one of my favorite little moments was at the beginning of the movie when the dude at CETI is listening to that great old REM song while the big, ominous alien mother ship is heading toward earth orbit. Awesome! I wonder what song some person at CETI will be listening to when a real alien mothership comes gliding into earth orbit. But since there has been a lot of talking about the subject of the impending end of the world, let’s get serious and take a look at the issue from one twisted old bugger’s perspective.

There are a lot of theories out there concerning December 21st of this year and they all tie in to the predictions of the Mayas. Now some of these theories are pure and unadulterated crap – like that TV commercial from the financial planner company where they make the statement that on December 21st the earth’s gravity will reverse and we’ll all go flying off into space (they didn’t even try to understand what the predictions say). The most common misconception about December 21st is that the world will end or otherwise be destroyed on that date. This misperception is not only wrong, but it is freaking a lot of people out unnecessarily. Last year when the tsunami from Japan hit the American West Coast and did considerable damage to a number of smaller ports from Washington to California, a young woman working at the convenience store that I’d stopped at asked me what it meant and if the world was really going to end on December 21, 2012. This poor woman, who had two small children that I knew of, had such a look of terror in her eyes. I calmed her down as best as I could and told her that no, the world is not going to end this December, and she seemed to feel a bit better. But her terror was real, her fear was coming off of her in waves that even I could feel. Since that incident, and especially as we have actually gotten into the dreaded year 2012, I’ve heard first hand accounts of people fearing that date, prudent folks stocking up on water and batteries and canned goods – and ammunition – in anticipation of the end of the world. News reports are increasingly covering stories where people are heading for the hills. (Well, not the Cascades really, since they’re a chain of dormant to semi-active volcanoes and likely to be nasty neighbors in any end of the world scenario.) I’ve noticed a lot of beachfront property in tsunami zones have gone on the market but aren’t moving. Sales of books on the subject are rising faster than the price of gasoline. People are either scared or, in some cases, in a state of bliss because they see that feared date as the beginning of some kind of New Age of spiritual enlightenment, like a modern Age of Aquarius type of thing, when the benevolent space aliens are going to come down and save humanity from its own short-sightedness (more on THAT subject another day, my friends). And a lot of people figure that it’s going to be the end of the human race in some kind of extinction level event, so they’re “partying like it’s 1999”, or something to that effect. And, of course, there is that wonderfully self-assured segment of society who don’t believe in gods or aliens or global calamities and are still conducting their lives, maintaining their personal status quo. Nobody knows what’s right or who has the straight scoop. Let me tell you, the closer that we get to December 21st the worse this is going to get.

So… What did the Mayas really say about this date? What can we expect on December 21st? Perhaps more importantly, has anyone else through history prophesied the same thing, and what did they have to say? Let’s take a look. I should warn you, I’ve been studying this general subject for forty years and could indeed write a very erudite piece on this subject, filled with references and arguing points and all of that other stuff that academia loves, but then most of you will lose interest (if you haven’t already) and then I’d just be one more academic that no one bothers to listen to. I’m going to keep this short and sweet and devoid of the $25.00 words that academics love, and I’ll give you just enough references so that you can look into it further if you like. And I hope that you do, because I’m a firm believer in testing everything and taking nobody’s word for granted.

Okay, back to the Mayas and what they really said. In two writings that survived the destructiveness of the pious Conquistadors, the Popul Vuh and the Chilam Balam, the Mayas predicted that the current age of the world will end on December 21st. (The Mayas and their proteges the Aztecs, believed that the world had so far endured four separate ages, each lasting several thousand years and ending in great cataclysms that mere handfuls of people survived, kinda like the Great Flood of the Bible and other peoples, including the Mayas.) Our fifth age, according to the Mayas, will end in a great deal of burning and earthquakes and volcanoes and meteors, you know, pleasant stuff like that. Now I’ve heard several scholarly types arguing that it won’t be December 21st, 2012 because that date is taken from a calendar devised by Julius Caesar and his people and not introduced to the Mayas until the 1500s when the Spanish brought it to the New World. There’s just one problem to that theory – the Mayan calendar was tied inextricably to the sunspot cycles of our own sun, which the Mayas had calculated quite accurately. (They also had extremely accurate tables calculating both the lunar cycles and the cycles of Venus, but the important one to them was the solar cycle.) The Mayas correctly calculated the sunspot cycle at 11.1 years and full sunspot cycle at 187 years, but they took it a bit further and came to an understanding that the sun’s rotation is not even like the earth’s is. Since the earth has a rocky crust, our rate of rotation is the same at the equator as at the poles, but since the sun is a ball of burning gas that’s not the case, for the sun’s rotation at the equator is 26 earth days but at the poles it is 37 earth days. In short, the sun’s magnetic field, which causes sunspots, gets twisted around like spaghetti spun around a fork, and it takes 18,139 years for THAT cycle to come full circle. (I promise, this is as technical as I’m going to get in this post!) So the Mayas have their calendar coordinated to the complete solar cycle of 18,139 years, which in my book was one hell of an accomplishment! So the date of December 21st, 2012 was not some date some long-dead Maya pulled out of his feathered hat, but happens to be the date when the Mayan calendar resets AND when the sun begins a whole new long cycle. It also happens to be date that the earth and our solar system cross the center of the Dark Rift, which is what the dark streak through the Milky Way is called, and that seems to be a harbinger of doom to the Mayas. Whew! I hope this wasn’t a bit much (the full explanation of the Mayan calendar’s relation to the sunspot cycles usually takes two or three chapters in some of the books that I’ve read, so I really did give you the short version), but some understanding of this is necessary to the problem at hand, which what in tarnation’s going to happen on December 21st.

The relevance of the entire preceding paragraph is that when the sun starts its cycles over again, because its magnetic field is so convoluted it ends up reversing its magnetic polarity, meaning north becomes south and south becomes north – magnetically. Now astronomy has shown that our solar system is actually one big vibrant biosphere of sorts instead of just a bunch of individual rocks and stuff, and the earth with its magnetic field exists within the sun’s much larger magnetic field, so logic would dictate that if the bigger magnetic field changes polarity then the smaller, weaker one should, too. Guess what? Geologists have shown that the earth’s magnetic field has reversed polarity numerous times in the past. So by now, if you haven’t fallen asleep or gone to youtube or something, your are probably beginning to smell what I’m stepping in – what’s going to happen this December is that the polarity of the Earth’s magnetic field is going to reverse and all of our compasses will start pointing south instead of north.

So what, you may say at this point. What’s the big deal? Well… For starters, I would expect that such a change will play hell with everything from telecommunications to GPS to the electrical grid. I don’t think it will do much to smaller, self-contained electrical systems like cars or portable radios, but then, I’m not an electrical engineer so I don’t really know. So at the very least we will be faced with most of society grinding to at least a temporary halt. But what concerns me is what a reversal of our magnetic field will do to the earth’s crust, and I think that this presents the bigger danger. Most of us probably played around with small magnets when we were kids or did experiments in school and saw that like poles on a magnet push each other away while opposing poles attracted. There’s a lot of rock in geologically sensitive areas that will suddenly be in the wrong magnetic alignment and will try to move to readjust. So I would expect that we will have a lot of earthquakes – probably big ones – and an increase of volcanic activity. If you live in California, you just may want to move…

Now if this part is starting to sound kind of familiar it’s because we are now coming to the final point I wanted to make, which is if anyone else predicted stuff like this. It’s probably easier to say “who didn’t”. Nearly all of the Native American tribes have lore that speaks of a time of great catastrophes followed by a renewal of the earth. Nostradamus wrote extensively about horrible catastrophes and wars in the latter days, but that there would come a time of peace afterwards. The Mayas themselves wrote that after the cataclysms to come there would begin a new age of peace. Edgar Cayce saw it happening this way. Mother Shipton, who wrote her prophecies around 1600 in northern England, foresaw great upheavals followed by an age of blissful peace. And all three of the monotheistic religions – Judaism, Christianity and Islam – predict a violent, cataclysmic end of the age followed by a new age of peace.

“…And I feel fine…”

REM said it right after all. Yes, the December 21st will – I’m convinced – be the start of the upheavals in the earth and in society that will bring the current age to its close, but I fully expect that after a couple of short years of upheaval we shall begin the sixth age of this world, and those of us who survive – by whatever method, prudence, location or divine intervention – will find ourselves moving forward into a new era where the baggage we’ve accumulated over the past 10,000 years will be nothing but history and scary stories to tell our children. I fully believe that December 21st will be the beginning of the birth pangs that will push humanity into a better world.

Whew! I hope that you made it to the end, my friend. Let me know what you think. I’m looking forward to hearing from you…

Further reading: I highly recommend the book The Mayan Prophecies, by Adrian G. Gilbert & Maurice M. Cotterell (USA publisher Element Books, Inc., PO Box 830, Rockport, MA 01966; 1995) which features one of the most coherent and detailed descriptions of the Mayan calendar and its astronomical connections that I’ve ever read; The Complete Prophecies of Nostradamus, Translated, Edited and Interpreted by Henry C. Roberts (Stratford Press, Inc., NYC; 1982) which is an excellent for studying Nostradamus; Edgar Cayce – The Sleeping Prophet by Jess Stearn (Doubleday and Company, Inc., NYC; 1967) which is still perhaps the best biography of Cayce and overview of his prophecies; the Popul Vuh and the Chilam Balam, both available online; Mother Shipton’s Prophecies, available online at Crystalinks; and the Holy Bible, particularly Isaiah Chapters 50-66 and the Book of the Revelation.

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